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This Week in Defense

News/Business. Guests from the Defense Department, Congress and the defense industry.

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U.s. 21, Pentagon 15, Navy 6, United States 6, Us 4, The Navy 4, Iraq 4, Obama Administration 2, Vago Muradian 2, Canada 2, Mosul 2, Reappealed 1, Lofemi Hightower 1, Mike Hoffman 1, Robert Gates 1, The Pentagon 1, Tunisia 1, North Africa 1, Sunnies 1, Gadone 1,
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  CBS    This Week in Defense    News/Business. Guests from the Defense  
   Department, Congress and the defense industry.  

    March 6, 2011
    11:00 - 11:30am EST  

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next on "this week in defense news," an interview with the chief of navel operations and how rising energy
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welcome to "this week in defense news." i'm vago muradian. unrest in the middle east has oil prices soaring. how will the cost of fuel impact the pentagon, the world's biggest single energy user? plus will the iraqi military be ready to guarantee the country's security after u.s. forces withdraw in december? but, first, the chief of navel operations, admirable gary roughhead recently joined reporters from defense news and other gann et media publications to discuss service personnel programs. we bring you excerpts from our wide-ranging interview. we start with personnel levels. in september, admirable roughhead said the navy should have 375,00 sailors but dropped
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that number. we asked him what changed. >> as we look at the end strength and it's not so much how many people should be in the navy, it really is what are the jobs in the navy and then how many people do you need to perform those functions. so it's very easy to say, well, you know, navy has x amount of people, so that's where we want to be. but what we constantly do as we go through the budget process is we're looking at the forestructure and the functions that have to be performed, and then how do you size that? i would submit that in the navy we in the past few years have done some incredible work to bill it to a person. so we're able to look at what is the forestructure we have, what are the functions we want to perform and then how many people do you need to do that.
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>> the navy is getting busier and that's putting a lot of wear on an aging fleet. how is the service coping with higher operations temple, as well as focusing on contemporary resolutions rather than a revised budget. >> the continuing budget has caused us to have to cancel some maintenance availabilities because i cannot spend more money than i'm going to to be given. i have that obligation to do that. and rather than simply say, well, i'll spend all the maintenance money that i have as soon as i get it on the availabilities that are closest to the sled, our objective, as you know, we have a couple of mid-life upgrade programs that are in play for ddgs and particularly for lsds, and i need to get those done.
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if i forego those, i don't know when the next time i can get that ship in and all the planning that has been done is pretty well finished. so what i'm doing now because of the fiscal limit that i have, the budgetary limit that i have because of the cr, i'm canceling some of what i would consider lesser availabilities. >> we have to make sure we make payroll, that's the given. we've cranked down, for example, on travel throughout the navy. we have delayed, for example, doesn't sound like a big deal, but it does cost money for security clearances, so we've throttled back a little bit on that, you know, to do what we have to do in order to fill the billets in, but not doing all of them that we would like to do. so i would say that that's the biggest one. the one that is most bothersome to me, really, is the permanent
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change of station, you know, not giving people a lot of lead time to move, and i would say that that is a bit tougher in this economic environment because there was a time that i can recall that if you were moving and if you owned a house, you could sell it in a matter of days, the housing markets were that high. >> we asked whether the navy will surge forces to respond to unrest in libya and the middle east. >> no. we've been using the forces that are deployed. i think that's the beauty of the deployed force is that you're able to move them around, and, again, it's not the navy deciding where they go, it's the combatant commanders and a process that we have of how do you apportion the forces. so we are using the forces that
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are currently deployed and i think that there's always that flexibility of if necessary, you know, rather than surge another type of ship, maybe you simply hold on to one for another couple of weeks. but that's the flexibility that we have, and that's enabled by the fact that we operate in international space, so we don't have to get permission to stay for a bit longer. >> the administration says defense spending will grow modestly, but most analysts expect cuts in the future. i asked admirable roughhead about a backup plan should deeper cuts be needed in the future. >> i'm not going to speculate on what that outcome would be. i think that we in the navy, as i mentioned early on, at least in our procurement accounts have some good, stable paths that we're on. the term that i've used is a
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sailor for other sailors in the room a couple of years ago, you know, when i came in, i knew there was going to be a downturn, i never imagined that we'd be dealing with the economic issues that we're dealing with. but i knew there would be a downturn because that's the way the cycle runs. and so what we did is we reached down, we have great capability. >> with don't ask don't tell reappealed and -- repealed and gays allowed to serve openly in the military. we asked admirable roughhead what sailors should expect. >> with the repeal of don't ask don't tell, what sailors should expect is the training to be in place and under way for the next couple of months. the training is not designed to change anyone's moral beliefs on the matter, but it's there to talk about what our standards are in the service, what the policy changes are going to be, and the training is not going
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to be extraordinarily lengthy. it is not sensitivity training that many of us in our younger days grew up with. it's really there it to say this is what has changed, this is what has not changed. and i think you're going to find that the standards of the navy have not changed, and so sailors are going to be, you know, very much aware of what the rules are. i think the change is going to be easy, i really do. i mean, as we were out, as the process was under way, as the surveys were taking place, i was out and about, as were the rest of the leadership, so when the results of the survey came out, quite frankly, i wasn't very surprised. it was what i expected. >> coming up, what the rising price of oil means for a
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unrest across the middle east is driving a rise in fuel prices with oil prices now topping $100 a barrel for the first time since september 2008. the rise in fuel price up $20 a barrel since october comes as the pentagon operates under temporary funding measures instead of a congressionally-approved budget. what does rising fuel prices mean for the world's largest single energy consumer? here is kristin from the new
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american issue who studied the issue. welcome to the show. >> thanks for having me. >> how big a problem is this for them? >> so the pentagon as of 2008 numbers spends about $18 billion on fuel every year. as secretary gates has mentioned in his speech, for every $1 increase we see in each barrel of oil prices, that costs the pentagon about another $130 million for every dollar increase. it's a big problem in the current budget environment where every dollar matters. the pentagon is driving toward greater efficiency, trying to cut spending as much as possible. so every dollar that goes up, that $130 million, every dollar that goes up in the price of oil is very significant for them. >> well, and also you're looking at a $20 a barrel increase since october and obviously everybody is operating on continuing resolutions, and if you do the math, that's like $2.6 billion and the pentagon is already operating on a $22 billion shortfall. how does this affect -- is there a divens of how the price
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affects what you can do operationally the rising price and what you can do domestically? >> not necessarily in the short term. these price fluctuations are unlikely to affect in afghanistan, where we have a military mission base inside combat and that is going to be compromised. end of story there. what this does it gets planners in the department looking at warfare and the shape of that, what those energy requirements are going to be based on the future conflict and they're going to be thinking through what the dollar point looks like to run these operations in the future. the supplementals that fund the wars are dramatic drains on the budget. there's military necessity, but it does cost the government a lot of money. so looking at these price spikes is going to start to influence more how we plan military operations in the future. >> and obviously a big drive on the obama administration's entire plan to become more energy efficient overall and use biofuels and other sorts of synthetic fuels. let's take a look, how did the
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pentagon respond three years ago when prices spiked and how are they responding this time? >> after the 2007-2008 price spikes, what the pentagon did was they first put manpower against the problem. so they tried to increase efficiency, energy efficiency sps possible. but they also set up new offices within within the pentagon with the specific energy question, towards driving toward the use of greater alternative energy. the pentagon relies on just petroleum for about 77% of all of its energy needs, electric, jet fuel, everything across the board. that marks a huge vul nerrability. so after the 2007-2008 price spikes, when you started to see the price affecting the budgets within the pentagon, each of the services set up new offices and dedicated new personnel to try to answer these questions. how can we greater -- how can we hasten the advancement of alternative fuels so we have more options when the price of petroleum goes up. >> are we anywhere near being
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able to take -- or are these technologies advanced enough to lighten the load on the pentagon? >> the technologies are there, so the department of defense has tested most of its aircraft, for example, and certified, yes, these aircraft can run on 50/50 biofuel petroleum blends, for example, which would reduce the petroleum demand if you can procure a large portion of them. the problem is in the private sector, those fuels are not being produced at scale right now, so the price point on them is not competitive with petroleum prices right now. so they're moving in that direction, but the private sector also has to scale up the production in order for it to be affordable for the pentagon to really bring in large quantities of these fuels and that's several years down the road as far as anyone can tell. >> where does the united states get most of its oil? i was in the u.a.e. a week before last and one of the senior folks there was saying it's basically saudi arabia and iran that you get your oil from this region. where do we get our oil and how
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is this interlinked to driving up the prices as high as they are, even though we're getting it from countries unaffected. >> we get most of our oil in the united states here from canada, united states and mexico. so right in our own neighborhood. the problem is the pricing is set on a global market. so price spikes affect everyone, even if our oil is coming from canada, the price going up based on events in the middle east is still going to make our canadaian petroleum more expensive or our mexican petroleum or even our domestic fuel more expensive with global pricing. so the whole system, every pricing, every supply shutdown that happens, there's ripples around the entire world every time that happens. >> does -- how does -- how long is this spike expected to last? is this going to be a brief spike or do you think this is going to be kind of a sustained pattern? >> this is the big difference between now and 2007-2008. no one knows. that's the scary part is that from what i'm hearing from most
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experts in the private industry, they're expecting a long-term shift, that we're not going to go back down to last year's prices anytime in the foreseeable future and things may get a lot worse. >> especially if saudi arabia or kuwait or one of these other countries gets involved. >> we're in neutral territory with democratization and some of these regimes being overthrown in the middle east. no one knows what's going to happen and most middle east experts are the ones that said, you know, after tunisia, egypt would not be the next one to go and it hasn't. >> how savvy a fuel buyer is the united states in the 30 or so seconds we've got left? >> there's a lot of processes in place for the pentagon to hedge in buying fuel and buying in futures markets and that's good. but they're also in the process of looking at how they can approve that, coming up with new hedging strategies to make sure no matter lofemi hightower prices -- how high prices go for petroleum, they're getting as much as they can for the military. there's room for improvement, but they're doing a good job so far. >> thanks for joining us.
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up next a firsthand look at training
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u.s. forces are scheduled to leave iraq in less than nine months, turning security over entirely to an increasingly independent iraqi military. but how ready are the iraqis? mike hoffman is a reporter with army times and just returned from a three-week deployment with the u.s. army in iraq. mike, welcome. >> thank you for having me. >> so u.s. troops are leaving in december. how ready are the iraqis to take charge of their own security? >> well, yes. the u.s. military is working right now to get to stay on schedule to leave on december 31st. and the real focus right now is training as well as a support role. general austin who is the commander of usfi out there right now has said that intelligence and logistics are shortfalls right now for which the iraqi army needs to improve. therefore, you have the u.s. trainers working hand in hand
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with iraqi trainers in order to do that. now, they don't have a lot of time left, and they also have to balance training with getting some of the infrastructure and the major bases out of iraq. they've been there for, what, eight years now? >> huge transition. >> yes. >> and are there -- what are the big shortfalls they have? obviously they're doing operations at the same time that they're doing this standup of their overall capabilities. >> absolutely. so they've done really well with counterinsurgency fight. they've really started to master that and the u.s. officers have noticed that, u.s. soldiers as well. so what they're really trying to focus on right now is the conventional aspect of fighting the war. so outside guzlani, outside mosul called the guzlani training center, they're starting to do battalion force-on-force exercises.
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it's where the tragedy unfortunately happened where two u.s. soldiers died. but right now they're really focused on mastering -- not mastering, but really getting the basics of conventional warfare, having the logistics in order to bring -- you know, something that u.s. soldiers really don't think about, but bring the food, bring the ammunition and getting it out there and making sure that they're well supplied and have the tactics in order to protect their borders. >> how much of this is an equipment challenge that the iraqi forces face and how much of this is a sustainment challenge? again, something u.s. forces don't really think a lot about is the fact that their equipment works and folks can fix it. >> the u.s. officers are focused on not only the equipment, but sustaining the equipment. and that's something the iraqis are working on as well. so it's great to have the humvees that are working there, and in a lot of cases, you have u.s. units handing over their humvees, not the m-wraps but the humvees over there. we'll focus on that. but the logistics and the
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sustainment of those humvees, for instance, i was talking to a couple of the supply officers for the u.s. working hand in hand with the iraqis and they said that only funding for sustainment, the iraqis have dedicated only 10% of the necessary funds for sustainment right now and that's just not going to cut it in the view of the u.s. >> especially with some of the more sophisticated gear they're going to get, for example, m-1 tanks and what have you. >> absolutely. they're really trying to do a trainup right there to get those tanks -- allowing the iraqi soldiers to operate those tanks right now. >> the iraqi army has grown dramatically and been well equipped with a whole bunch of american equipment, but the army air force capitalization has not progressed at pace and right now the iraqis depend on the united states for air cover and that mission will have to be picked up by the iraqis. what's the status on the iraqi air force right now? >> while i was out there, the suspension of the f-16s being sold from the u.s. over to the
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iraqis occurred much to the dismay of some of the iraqi officers. i sat down and talked to an iraqi fighter pilot who was especially disappointed in that. >> i can imagine. >> absolutely. so one of the focuses they are having right now for the iraqis is not necessarily specific to equipment, but radar, having the air traffic controllers being able to see the entire air space for iraq. now, that's a big deal. i mean, you can't fight what you can't see. >> right. >> so they need to train the air traffic controllers which they depend on heavily for the u.s. in order to make mij strides for the iraqi forces. -- make major strides. >> it's pretty much now once the united states leaves. >> that's correct. >> from a sectarian standpoint, you know, obviously the united states has been the glue that's kind of kept the country together. what are iraqis telling you about what the sectarian picture is going to look like a couple of years after we leave? >> the iraqi officers i spoke to realize this is a sensitive subject. and when i sat down and spoke with the head of iraqi ground forces, general ali gadone, he
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says it's a nonissue. he says never has he ever looked at his force and says i have this many sunnies, vi this many shiites, this many kurds up north. it's different when you get into the ranks, i'm sure like the u.s. military, you hear one thing at the top level, you hear a different thing at the bottom. but when you go up to different parts of the country, say, when you're up in mosul, there are quite a few sunni as well as kurdish soldiers up there. now, i sat down and spoke with the kurdish officer, they don't exactly have the greatest history with the iraqi army up there. >> exactly. >> and he said that a real issue right there for them is -- and i guess a real concern is right now while the u.s. is here with the u.s. playing big brother, it's okay. but once the u.s. pulls out, it's going to be a tougher story. >> it's going to be something that's obviously going take up everybody's time and attention for the coming years, even after the united states leaves. about 150 u.s. trainers and
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advisors are going to stay. >> yeah. they're going to be focused on foreign military sales, also foreign officials say they hope they continue a partnership with the iraqis through exercises. >> mike, thanks very much. coming up in
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it often takes a crisis to drive home the need for change and as revolution sweeps across north africa and the middle east, oil topped $100 a barrel for the first time since september of 2008. that's a problem for d.o.d. which is the world's biggest single energy consumer that uses 80% of the fossil fuels it buys to power vehicles, aircraft, ships and military bases. in 2008, defense secretary robert gates said each dollar increase in fuel price means $130 million in pentagon costs. that means that the $20 rise
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for a barrel of fuel since fiscal year began in october will cost $2.6 billion. d.o.d.'s problem is compounded by operating on continuing resolutions rather than a real budget. the pentagon already faces a $22 billion shortfall this year, so spiking energy prices makes the problem worse. energy efficiency is a top obama administration priority and innovative thinkers argue the advantages of alternative fuels and using solar and wind to power remote outposts where delivering fuel is expensive and dangerous. the pentagon and the nation must move faster to reduce dependence on fossil fuels that stews -- constitutes a growing national security threat. thanks for joining us for "this week in defense news." i'm vago muradian. you can watch this online or e-mail us. i'll be back next week at the same time. until then, have a
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